Wichita Settles Fire Investigators’ FLSA Claims for $155k

The city of Wichita has reached a settlement with six fire investigators who filed suit late last year claiming they were being improperly required to work 204 hours per 27-day work period before being eligible for overtime. The six investigators, Branden Arnold, Chris Dugan, Donny Eckerman, Joseph Evans, Mark Reibenspies and David Thissen, will split $140,000 while their attorneys will receive $15,000.

The investigators filed suit in US District Court for the District of Kansas on December 22, 2017 alleging a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. They claimed that their job responsibilities qualified them as “employees in law enforcement activities”, not “employees in fire protection activities” as those terms are defined in the FLSA.

The difference between firefighters and law enforcement officers under the FLSA is significant. Employees in fire protection activities can be required to work 204 hours in a 27-day work period before being eligible for overtime while employees in law enforcement are eligible for overtime after working 165 hours in 27 days. The investigators sought overtime compensation for all of the hours they worked over 165 hours.

According to the Wichita Eagle, the settlement represents “100 cents on the dollar” for the investigators’ claims. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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